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Reds select Texas' Stubbs with first pick

Reds select outfielder Stubbs with first pick

ST. LOUIS -- A third-round draft pick of the Astros in 2003, a bizarre set of circumstances delayed Drew Stubbs' professional baseball career from starting right out of high school.

Ultimately, the dream proved worth waiting for a little longer.

Stubbs became a star center fielder for the University of Texas and won a National Championship with the Longhorns last year. On Tuesday, the junior became a first-rounder in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft when the Reds selected him with the eighth overall pick.

"I'm very excited. It's a huge honor to be in the position I'm in right now," said Stubbs, who batted .342 with 12 home runs, 58 RBIs and 26 steals while starting all 62 of Texas' games this season.

Stubbs, 21, was the second position player taken overall. Scouting reports said that the 6-foot-4, 200-pounder was an athletic five-tool player with great speed and power that complemented his Gold Glove-caliber defensive ability.

Baseball America rated Stubbs as the best college athlete and best defensive player in this year's draft and the second fastest baserunner and third-best power hitter.

"[He] as all the tools you look for, plays at a top-flight program," Reds scouting director Chris Buckley said from Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. "We're thrilled to have him. For me, he was the best athlete in the draft, so we're excited to have him with the eighth pick."

"He's a top-flight center fielder, he's got all the skills," general manager Wayne Krivsky said. "We're just real pleased to get him. I trusted Chris and his staff to do the right thing, and pick the best player in each round."

A four-sport athlete in high school, Stubbs said he was also recruited to play college football but was most passionate about playing baseball.

"Baseball was always my first love, and that's what I wanted to continue to do," he said.

A native of Atlanta, Texas, Stubbs had agreed to receive $900,000 from his home-state Astros in 2003. Considered an abnormally high bonus for a third-round pick, Major League Baseball pressured the club to lower the amount and the club's offer was eventually rescinded.

So, Stubbs went to college instead.

"I was excited to go to school, but at the same time disappointed I didn't get to start my pro career," Stubbs said. "Deep down all along, I wanted to go to school. I really wanted the chance to get the college experience. If the money was right for me and family, what I was asking for was there on the table, and I would have had to take it and start pro ball.

"When it all fell through and I realized I was going to college, I was happy about it deep down. I realized it was probably the best thing."

It should prove to be a lucrative move. Cincinnati's first-round pick in 2005, outfielder Jay Bruce, received a $1.8 million bonus out of high school as the 12th overall selection.

Stubbs watched the draft on a computer at his apartment with family and three teammates, including corner outfielder Carson Kainer -- who was later taken in the 14th round by Cincinnati. When Stubbs' name was announced, it was a little anti-climatic because his advisor had already phoned him with the news a half-hour earlier.

Speculation had the Reds taking Stubbs if he was available and the two sides had already opened negotiations before Tuesday.

"I think I've been in their target for a couple of months now," Stubbs said. "I was looking to go as high as possible, and eighth with Cincinnati is definitely a very good spot for me. I was excited before the draft started when I found out it was going to happen."

Talking to reporters on a conference call from Austin, Stubbs said he expected to sign quickly.

"The way we've been talking recently, we pretty much came to an agreement that I wouldn't be difficult to sign if I was drafted," he said. "I'm not sure how quick the actually signing will take place. When it comes to negotiations, I'm think all that's pretty much ironed out and I won't be a problem to sign at all."

"Hopefully, it'll happen quickly," Buckley said. "The sooner we can get him signed, the sooner he can start working with our people."

Over his three-year collegiate career, Stubbs batted .317 and was a two-time member of the USA Baseball national team. Patience at the plate is one area that will need developing as a professional -- he had 60 strikeouts, compared to 41 walks in 2006, and 205 strikeouts over a 204-game college career.

"There's some [concern]," said Buckley. "But, every person drafted before him, I could throw rocks at. There are not many slam dunks in this stuff."

Stubbs, who will be assigned to rookie level Billings once signed, felt professional at-bats would make him more consistent.

"I don't consider myself a guy that's one of those big power hitters that's either going to hit a home run or strikeout," Stubbs said. "I think I'm more of a balanced hitter that can hit for average. My development over the next few years will cure a lot of those problems and I'm looking forward to improving in every aspect of the game."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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